Melnik (Bulgaria)

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Melnik (Мелник)
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Melnik (Bulgaria)
Basic data
State : BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria
Oblast : Blagoevgrad
Residents : 199  (December 31, 2016)
Coordinates : 41 ° 31 ′  N , 23 ° 24 ′  E Coordinates: 41 ° 31 ′ 0 ″  N , 23 ° 24 ′ 0 ″  E
Height : 437 m
Postal code : 2820
Telephone code : (+359) 07427
License plate : E.
Mayor : Christo Taschew

Melnik [ ˈmɛɫnik ] ( Bulgarian Мелник ; Greek Μελένικο Meléniko ) is the smallest town in Bulgaria with around 200 inhabitants (in 2016; in the 1960s there were around 390). It is located in the southwest of Bulgaria, in the Blagoevgrad district / Oblast , Sandanski municipality . The dark red Melnik wine , which is grown in the area, is named after her . In addition to wine, the city is known for the sandstone pyramids of Melnik and for the architecture in the style of the Bulgarian Revival .

The city is a tourist center and is under monument protection ( architecture reserve ), 96 houses have been declared cultural monuments. For historical reasons, Melnik retains its city status despite the small number of inhabitants.

Throughout history there were 70 churches in Melnik and four monasteries in the vicinity. Today (2009) three of the churches are still in use, the exact location of only 21 churches is known. Of the monasteries, only the Roschen monastery is actually used.


Location map of Melnik
Melnik (red square) - Bulgaria - Neighbor Type: Sandanski , Petrich , Gotse Delchev , Razlog , Blagoevgrad , Pazardzhik , Velingrad , Sidhirókastron , Serres , Kilkis

Melnik is located on the southwestern edge of the Pirin Mountains at 437 meters above sea level (370 meters to 450 meters). The Melnik River (Bulgarian Мелнишка река / Melnischka reka) flows through Melnik, a left tributary of the Struma . Seven kilometers from Melnik - in an easterly direction - is the Roschen monastery. The footpath leads through the natural phenomenon of the Melnik pyramids, also known by the misleading name of the Melnik sandstone pyramids .

Melnik is 150 kilometers south of the Bulgarian capital Sofia , 22 kilometers southeast of the city of Sandanski and 25 kilometers northeast of Petrich . The distance to the Greek border is 20 kilometers.

The Struma valley runs twelve kilometers west of Melnik. It stretches from north to south and forms the western border of the Rila and Pirin Mountains. The valley of the Struma is already open far to the south near Melnik, whereby this wine region is influenced by the favorable climatic influence of the Mediterranean and the Aegean .

Because of the southern location, there is a transitional climate to the Mediterranean climate , with precipitation reaching its minimum in summer and its maximum in winter. The annual rainfall is 670 mm.


City foundation and early development

There is no definite information about when Melnik was created. One of the main routes in the Balkans, which leads from Sofia to the south, along the Struma valley to Serres and Thessaloniki , already existed in the 7th / 6th centuries. Millennium BC Chr. Melnik was not far from this main artery.

Originally the Thracian tribe of the Medi (maedi) lived in the Melnik and Petritsch region , from which Spartacus probably also descended. In the 3rd to 2nd century BC There was a Thracian settlement here. South of today's city of Melnik, where the Melnik fortress later stood, the Thracians had a sanctuary in honor of the hunting goddesses Artemis / Bendis , as well as an Augusteum (Bulgarian: августейон) which was destroyed at the end of the 4th century.

After the Macedonians colonized the Medi , the settlement grew. During the Roman era (1st to 4th centuries) the place became the center of an imperial estate (saltus). The Romans left behind the old Roman bridge that is still preserved today. An early Byzantine fortress stood here in the 5th to 6th centuries. There was a Slavic settlement here in the 6th century.

According to Ivan Dujchev, the name of the city is of purely Slavic origin. Etymologically, Melnik is derived from the Old Slavic word mel for white clay / chalk . This means the rocks of the pyramids of Melnik that surround the city.

Bulgarian Middle Ages

Ruins of the Slav fortress

Under Khan Presian I (836-852) Melnik became part of the First Bulgarian Empire and flourished at this time. The areas on the middle reaches of the Struma were annexed to Bulgaria in 837 when the Vice Khan, ( Kawkhan ) Isbul (Bulgarian Кавхан Исбул) passed here during his campaign. He and his troops were on their way to support a Slavic uprising against the Byzantines in Smolyan , on the lower reaches of the Mesta . In the 8th century and for most of the 9th century Melnik was far inland Bulgaria, far from any major events.

In written sources, Melnik, especially the Melnik Fortress, was first mentioned in the early 11th century when it was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire after the Battle of Kleidion (1014) . At the end of July 1014 after the battle of Kleidion, which the Byzantine emperor Basil II won against the Bulgarians, at the latest in early August, the emperor and his troops turned against Melnik. The population of Melnik and the surrounding area sought refuge in the fortress. The Byzantines tried several times to take the strong and almost impregnable fortress Melnik. However, with cunning and persuasion, Basil II managed to get into the city.

After the restoration of the Bulgarian Empire in 1186, rule over the border town changed several times between the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire.

Melnik only became Bulgarian again in 1195, when, according to the historian Niketas Choniates, Tsar Ivan Assen I annexed the areas around the Serres region to the Second Bulgarian Empire during a campaign . Probably immediately afterwards, at the beginning of the 13th century or even in the last years of the 12th century, Alexius Slaw was sent to conquer and control the whole wider region of the Rhodope Mountains. Slaw came from the Assen family and was the son of a sister of the Tsars Iwan Assen I, Peter and Iwaniza (??) and thus their nephew. The name of his sister, his mother, is not known.

In the first years of the 13th century, Despot Alexius Slaw (1205-1229) became the independent ruler of the western Rhodope Mountains.

Slavs seat was the Melnik fortress, from 1209 to 1230 the city was the capital of his despotate (principality). From Melnik he ruled over the whole of the Rhodope Mountains, which were popularly known as the forests of the Slavs . In 1209 he moved his seat from the fortress Zepina (Bulgarian Цепина) (today near the village of Dorkowo - Bulgarian Дорково - Pazardzhik Oblast ) to Melnik. The ruins of the fortress are still located above Melnik and shape the cityscape.

In 1211, a severe earthquake destroyed part of the fortress and caused cracks in the church walls. While the damage caused by the natural disaster was being repaired, Slaw had a lot of changes in Melnik's urban planning concept. The impregnable fortress was completely rebuilt. It was built on the highest point of the hill in the 12th century.

The partially fallen wall paintings of the church Sweta Nikola Mirlikijski (Bulgarian Св. Никола Мирликийски , Nikolaus von Myra ) have been restored. The church was Melnik's oldest Christian church and an Episcopal basilica. The basilica has been named after this patron saint since the beginning of the 18th century (see below).

During the rule of Slavs, the monastery of Holy Mother of God Pantanassa ( Pantanassa = Queen of All) (Bulgarian Св. Богородица Пантанаса / Sweta Bogorodiza Pantanassa ) was built in the 13th century . It was the second monastery in the city. The Pantanassa Monastery (so the short name) was used until 1913 when the Greek population of the city was expelled. Today only ruins are left of the monastery. Some of the wall paintings still preserved are of great importance for the Bulgarian art of this period. The donor's inscription allows the frescoes to be dated to 1289, which coincides with the creative period of Giotto di Bondone (1266–1337), who is considered to be the decisive pioneer of the Italian Renaissance .

Also in the 13th century the monastery of Saint Charalampos (Bulgarian Св. Харалампий ; Charalampos : Bishop of Magnesia , martyr , born in the 2nd century AD in Antioch on the Orontes in Pisidia , died around 203 in Magnesia am Meander), that lasted seven centuries until the 20th century. The monastery was on the mountain plateau of Saint Nikola , which was the center of medieval Melnik. Church paintings in two layers were discovered in the monastery, from the 13th century and from the beginning of the 18th century. Some of the restored fragments can be seen in the historical museum of the city of Blagoevgrad .

As a despot, Alexius Slav raised the hegumen of his monastery Sweta Bogorodiza Spileotisa Pawel Klawdiopolit (Bulgarian Павел Клавдиополит) to the first metropolitan of Melnik and Serres .

In October 1207, Tsar Boril , also from the Assen family, took control of Bulgaria. He began his reign with repression against all of his close relatives who might lay claim to the throne in Tarnovo . Alexius Slaw, who at that time still had his seat in the fortress Zepina, renounced his cousin and declared himself to be the independent ruler.

In order to secure strong support and to consolidate his country, Slaw declared himself a vassal of the Latin Empire of Constantinople under the Latin Emperor Heinrich of Flanders in 1208 . Heinrich was the brother of the Latin emperor Baldwin I, who was captured in the battle of Adrianople (1205) . The Latins gave Alexius Slaw the title of despot, the recognition of his country and the underage, illegitimate daughter of Henry as a wife.

In 1208 Slaw suffered a defeat. His cousin Tsar Boril conquered Melnik and the entire region of the central Struma valley. Probably in 1211 the despot Alexius Slaw managed to retake the city of Melnik. The importance Slaw attached to the city can be seen from the fact that he immediately moved the capital of his country from Zepina to Melnik.

Slav's wife probably died in 1216, which also ended relations between Melnik and Constantinople.

Slaw fought to maintain his position as ruler. Since Tsar Ivan Assen II Tarnowo seemed too far, Slaw relied on Theodoros I Angelos in Thessaloniki, and married the daughter of his brother-in-law (brother of the wife) Theodoros Petralifa (Bulgarian Теодор Петралифа).

Theodoros I had been anointed as a basileus by the Archbishop of Ohrid , Demetrios Chomatianos . This was an important sign, as the relatives by marriage in Thessaloniki had already laid claim to the throne in Constantinople in 1224. However, on March 9, 1230 , Emperor Theodoros I was defeated by Ivan Assen II in the battle of Klokotnitsa , captured, blinded and sent back to Thessaloniki as a vassal. This defeat also had an impact on Alexius Slaw.

The land of the despot Alexius Slaw only existed until 1230, because after the battle of Klokotnitsa there was no more room for the opponents of Ivan Assen II. After twenty years under the influence of Slavs, Melnik was never again the capital of an area.

However, Melnik continued to flourish and continued its economic boom under Tsar Ivan Assen II thanks to duty-free trade with Dubrovnik , which was ruled by the Republic of Venice .

After the victory of Tsar Ivan Assen II over the troops of Theodorus I in the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230, Melnik and the surrounding territory were annexed to Bulgaria from the possession of Alexius Slav. Some historians believe that Slaw then returned to his native Veliko Tarnovo.

In the middle of the 13th century Melnik fell to the Nikaia Empire .

Michael VIII. Dukas Komnenos Palaiologos, the later Byzantine emperor, was in 1246 (1252?) By Emperor John III. Dukas Batatzes was appointed governor of Melnik and Serrhai (Serres). Palaiologos maintains good relations with the Bulgarians in Melnik.

In the 13th century entire noble families of Byzantine and Bulgarian aristocrats were banished to Melnik several times (by the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan and by the Byzantine emperors), which changed the composition of the population and the architectural appearance of the city. Many of the stately Byzantine houses were in use until the beginning of the 20th century. Its ruins have been preserved to this day.

In the 14th century Melnik was for a certain time in the dominion of Protosevastos ( Sevastos , Greek Σεβαστός; venerable ) Chreljo (Bulgarian Хрельо, Hrelyo, also known as Stefan Dragovol / Стефан Драговол) (probably. † 1342). After his death in 1342, Melnik fell under the rule of the Serbian ruler Stefan Uroš IV. Dušan for fifteen years , followed by his son Stefan Uroš V.

In the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire conquered the Balkans in the 14th and 15th centuries. Century, causing a long period of decline in the region.

At the end of the 14th to the end of the 19th century, Bulgaria also fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. After 1395 Melnik came under Ottoman rule. The city and its surroundings belonged as an independent Nahie (commune) to the Sandschak Kyustendil ( subdivision of a large province), Greater Province / Vilayet Rumelia .

In a Ferman (ordinance) of 1604, Melnik was mentioned as the center of the Kaza (judicial district). Under the name of Melnik , the city was mentioned in a number of Ottoman financial, tax and judicial documents from the early 17th to the late 19th centuries.

The Melnik Charter of 1813

Melnik fell into disrepair in the first centuries of Ottoman rule, but flourished again at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries thanks to tobacco and wine making. The wine was exported to all of Europe, but especially to England and Austria. The most famous wholesalers in Melnik are the Kordopoulos family, whose house ( Kordopulos house - see below ) and wine cellar have been converted into a museum. There were over seventy churches in the city and four monasteries in the vicinity (including the Roschenkloster ). Melnik had three boys 'schools, one of which was Bulgarian and two of which were Greek, as well as a girls' school, in which the children of the populous city were educated during the period of the Bulgarian Revival . There was also a well-stocked library in town. Melnik was a center of craftsmanship, especially church decoration and wood carving.

In 1829 a severe earthquake badly damaged the city; it had already been badly affected by a severe earthquake in 1211.

In 1845 the Russian Slavist Viktor Grigorowitsch (Виктор Иванович Григорович) wrote about Melnik: “Melnik, whose inhabitants are Bulgarians, have completely mastered the Greek language. There are 26 large and small churches and two Greek schools. "

In 1873 there were 3810 residents in 1030 households in Melnik. The residents were Muslims (650), Bulgarians (2600) and Greeks (560).

Melnik was captured by the Russian Army during the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877/1878. The Ottoman rule was only ended briefly, as after a few months (after the Berlin Congress of 1878) Melnik was again added to the Ottoman Empire. The city was then until 1912 the center of a Kaza (judicial district) in Sanshak Serres, in the Ottoman Greater Province / Vilâyet Selanik / Saloniki (Thessaloniki).

Melnik had 22,000 inhabitants in 1880, of which 18,000 were Greeks, 2,000 Turks and 2,000 Bulgarians. This made Melnik one of the largest cities in Bulgaria at that time.

In the second half of the 19th century, Melnik gradually fell into disrepair. It was off the main artery that ran through the Struma valley. Some of the residents moved to Serres (now Greece), Gorna Dshumaja (now Blagoevgrad) and other Bulgarian cities.

Around 1900 the population of the city consisted of 4,330 people, of whom 500 were Bulgarians, 950 Turks, 2,650 Greeks, 20 Wlasians and 200 Gypsies.

In the first decades of the 20th century, almost the entire population of Melnik belonged to the Patriarchate of Constantinople . In 1905 there were 40 Bulgarian exarchists , 220 Bulgarian patriarchist Graecomanians and 3825 Greeks in the city. There was a Bulgarian primary school with Progymnasien and two Greek primary schools with two Progymnasien.

The city after the Balkan Wars

During the Balkan Wars , Melnik became part of Bulgaria. In 1912 , 26 Bulgarian hostages were killed by Turkish troops south of Melnik, in the Grozni dol area (Bulgarian Грозни дол ) during the First Balkan War . On October 17, 1912, Jane Sandanski and his Tscheta (troops) ended the Ottoman rule over Melnik. A large part of Melnik was burned down in the Balkan Wars.

After the Second Balkan War, the former allies of the First Balkan War agreed in the Peace of Bucharest to the detriment of Bulgaria on the division of Macedonia. The Greek king attached such great importance to the city of Melnik that he offered Kavala as an exchange for Melnik, which the great powers refused.

The Greek population was relocated to the nearest town across the border ( Sidirokastro ) to Greece. In their place were Bulgarian refugees from the prefecture of Thessaloniki , the prefecture of Serres , the Prefecture of Drama and other parts of the Greek region of Macedonia ( Aegean Macedonia settled).

At the end of the Second Balkan War in 1913, the Greek population left Melnik by order of the Greek government and settled in Greece. The order came after it was announced that Melnik was to remain in Bulgaria. The city, which was Greek for most of its history, has been practically abandoned by the majority of the Greek population. According to the Bulgarian reading, the Greek military forced the population to leave the city.

Automobiles and horse-drawn carts were made available to enable the Greek population to take their belongings with them to Demir Hisar (Sidirokastro).

On the orders of the officers, the goods in the large Bulgarian stores owned by Temelko Haschijanew and Konstantin Poptachev were looted. The smaller Bulgarian shops in Melnik and the private houses of the Bulgarians were looted by the Greek population. On their way to Greece, the Greeks burned down the Bulgarian villages they passed through. Only the remote small villages in the mountains were spared from the flames.

When the Greeks moved out, they took all archival materials and valuable church objects with them. That is why today most of Melnik's historical traces can be found in the archives of the monasteries of Athos and in the Greek National Library in Athens.

Most of the Greek refugees moved to Sidirokastro, a few to Serres and Thessaloniki .

During the First World War, Professor Wassil Slatarski also visited the city of Melnik in 1916 as a participant in a scientific reconnaissance expedition on behalf of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army in the areas of Macedonia and the Pomoravlje region recaptured by the Bulgarians . In his report to the Bulgarian General Staff he wrote:

“... today this city is a true landscape of ruins. Of the 2,000 houses (around 10,000 people), one can hardly count 200 houses in which people live. Everything else is either completely destroyed or half-destroyed by the fire. Or the houses are still almost intact, but without windows and doors and without any wood at all. During interrogation I learned that the Turkish quarter had been set on fire and destroyed by the Chetniks in 1912. The remainder of the greater part of the city was abandoned by the Greek and Graecoman (Greek-speaking but ethnically non-Greek) populations when the Greek troops left Melnik in 1913 under the Treaty of Bucharest . "

In return, debulgarization was carried out on the Greek side, the coastal region on the Aegean Sea, and in Serbia . Before that, in 1906 there were pogroms against Greeks all over Bulgaria (in Varna, Plovdiv, Asenovgrad, Russe, Karnobat, Aytos, Busgas). Around 1920, the Turks drove over a million Greeks from Turkey, who were then settled in the debulgarized South Macedonia.

The liberation from the Ottomans (First Balkan War), which caused the Turkish population to flee, and the forced resettlement of the Greek population (Second Balkan War) led to the economic decline of Melnik. The Bulgarian-Greek border was closed. This blocked access to the Aegean Sea (called the White Sea by the Bulgarians ; Bulgarian Бело море / Belo more), which was only a hundred kilometers to the south, and thus trade with the important city of Thessaloniki. On the other hand, the Bulgarian markets were distant. From a population that once numbered 25,000, fewer than three hundred have remained to this day. And of the seventy-two churches that were once there, only about ten survived.

In the hearts of most Bulgarians, the loss of two thirds of historical Macedonia after 1913 is still not over. Many hope for a peaceful integration of the Republic of Macedonia, which is regarded as a kind of historical province of Bulgaria and whose inhabitants are regarded as a Bulgarian ethnic group. The efforts of the Bulgarian communists to research the purely Bulgarian history of Macedonia can be seen against this background . The dispute over the name of Macedonia should also be seen in this context .

Melnik in Bulgaria

In 1968 Melnik was declared a museum city. Today (2009) the population makes a living mainly from wine and tobacco production as well as tourism. Melnik was famous for its strong wine since 1346. Even Winston Churchill drank preferably the red wine from Melnik.

Since 1970 the then communist government of Bulgaria made strong efforts to historical and archaeological exploration of Melnik and the entire region. Melnik was almost the center and showpiece of all Bulgarian archeology. With the turnaround (1990), and the associated economic decline of the whole country, the entire funding of archaeological research collapsed. The archaeologists had to cease their work for ten to fifteen years due to a lack of funds. Only three archaeologists who had to take care of their own financing remained in Melnik. There wasn't even any means of putting up billboards for tourists. It was not until 2009 that the Bulgarian government made funds available again for the work of the archaeologists in Melnik.

The city has been the namesake of the Melnik Ridge since 1997 and indirectly for the Melnik Peak , a mountain ridge or mountain on Livingston Island in Antarctica, since 2004 .


Melnik offers a number of cultural attractions and the famous Melnik pyramids .

The town of Melnik, along with the historical museum, the Kordopulos house, the monastery Roschen Roshdestvo Bogoroditsa and the neighboring village of the same name, Roschen, is listed as number 4 among the 100 national tourist objects of Bulgaria created by the Bulgarian Tourism Association .

Melnik is the starting point for hikes to the Pirin mountain hut and the Malina mountain hut .

Melnik Historical Museum

Until recently, the Melnik Historical Museum was located in the Paschow House, which was built in 1815. Now it is housed in a new building. The museum is a branch of the Sandanski Historical Museum and is included in the list of 100 national tourist objects of Bulgaria . Topics include wine production in the Melnik region and life - especially of Greek families - in Melnik during the period of the Bulgarian Revival. There is an ethnographic collection that is particularly focused on the Pirin-Macedonia region. Finds from the Stone Age are also on display.

Kordopoulos house

Kordopoulos house

The Kordopoulos House ( Bulgarian Кордопулова къща ) was built in 1754 by the wealthy Greek merchant Manolis Kordopoulos. This house is one of the outstanding Bulgarian houses in the style of Bulgarian Revival architecture. In the house there is an exhibition in a wine cellar, which was dug from the house via tunnels into the neighboring mountain. The wine cellar is the largest in Melnik. The wine cellars, which were driven into the sandy soil of the adjacent hills, are directly connected to the houses by underground passages.

Huge wine barrels are on display. You can see the interior design of the house with the decorations, wall paintings, carvings and stained glass.

Ruins of the Church of Saint Nikolas

Other interesting buildings are the Byzantine House ( Boyaren House), one of the oldest preserved civilian buildings from the Middle Ages on the Balkan Peninsula. It was probably built as a Bulgarian fortress in the 12th or 13th centuries; furthermore the Pasha house, which was built by Ibrahim Bey . He was one of the richest beys in the region during the Ottoman rule. In the Balkans, even the buildings in the Greek ruined city of Mystras are no older.


The high number of churches (over seventy churches) and monasteries that were built in Melnik and the immediate vicinity was characteristic of the Second Bulgarian Tsarist Empire. They were often only the size of chapels and foundations of private piety, not parish churches in the usual sense. However, such a density can only be found in Nessebar , Asenovgrad and Tarnowo .

The churches can be visited:

  • Saint Nikola (built in the 13th century) (Bulgarian Свети Никола; Nicholas of Myra )
  • Saints Petar and Pawel (Saints Peter and Paul) (1840) (Bulgarian Свети Свети Петър и Павел; Petar = Simon Petrus , Pawel = Paulus of Tarsus )
  • Saint Nicholas the Thaumaturge  ?? (1756)
  • Saint Anthony ??

* Saints Petar and Pavel

The Church of Saints Petar and Pavel was built in the 13th century. In 1840 it was completely renovated. There is also an inscription that has survived from 1840. The church is interesting for historians because it was a metropolitan church ( metropolitan = upper bishop). The church was abandoned around 1950. It was only in recent years that excavations revealed that it stood on the ruins of a 6th century building, probably a church or place of worship. There were two metropolitan churches in Melnik.

  • Sweta Nikola Mirlikijski Church

It was the oldest Christian church in the city and was devastated during the Balkan Wars of 1912/1913. A high, free-standing bell tower was built in the south-west of the church. The bell tower was square, 4 by 4.5 meters, with 1 meter thick walls, probably three stories, with a platform on top on which an open octagonal wooden structure stood, as a photo from 1900 by Pavel Milyukov shows. Bell towers in the Middle Ages typically had an aspect ratio of 1: 3, so a tower height of 15 to 16 meters is likely. The bell tower thus towered over the entire city.

The two bells (possibly a bell for a neighboring monastery) of the bell tower are exhibited today in the Melnik Historical Museum (see below ). They are among the oldest bells that have survived in Europe. The bells were in use until 1913. The inscription on the bells is the earliest source that Nicholas of Myra names as the patron saint of the church.

Both bells are cast from bronze. The first bell was cast in two parts, an upper part with the complicated suspension system and a lower part. Both parts were then joined together. To improve the sound, the upper part of the bell has two triangular holes. The second bell was cast in one piece and dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

One bell bears the inscription: "Copper-forged bell - gift of the despot Alexius, the pious Slav for St. Nicholas of Myra". In the bell inscription, the name Slaw is written in the same way as on a deed of donation from Alexius Slaw (Bulgarian Сигилий на деспот Алексий Слав) from 1220 to the Melnik monastery Sveta Bogorodica Speleпotisa (Bulgarian Света Бепотититорсалецасалец Содорцороц Содорцороц . With the deed, Slav donated the village Katunzi (Bulgarian Катунци) to the monastery with the fields, property and residents.


In the ruins of the Sw. Bogorodiza Spileotissa , built on the instructions and with the means of Alexius Slaw, the oldest icon of Melnik was found: Sw. Bogorodiza Odigitrija ( Bulgar . Св. Богорорица Одигитрия ). This icon has lavish silver fittings.

In the church of Sw. Nikola (bulg. Св. Никола ) becomes the icon Sw. Teodor Tiron and Sw. Teodor Stratilag (Bulgarian Св. Теодор Тирон и св. Теодор Стратилат ). The icon shows the two holy warriors with their hands raised to the vault of heaven. Two hands stretch out from heaven to them, offering them the martyrs' wreaths. Their wonderfully draped clothes, their finely modeled faces stand out clearly against the golden background.

Melnik fortress

The medieval Slavova fortress (Bulgarian Славова крепост), which was declared a cultural monument of national importance for Bulgaria, is located one kilometer south of Melnik, on the hill Sveti Nikola. Today it lies largely under the ruins of the Sweti Nikola church . The fortress dates from the 11th century. However, it was rebuilt in 1215/1218 by the despot Aleksij Slaw and fortified even more, which is why it bears his name today. Slavova's fortress is just the Bulgarian version of Slav's fortress . The fortress played an important role during the reign of Assen II, when Melnik was the residence of the boyar Drago. The fortress was destroyed during the Ottoman conquest. Today only part of the eastern wall is preserved, which is up to ten meters high in some places. During excavations, parts of the southern and western walls of the fortress were uncovered, as well as fragments of the famous graffiti ceramics by Melnik. The fortress is surrounded by a massive fortress wall with towers and a moat. The fortress has the shape of an elongated, irregular polygon.

Because of the severe erosion that also created the earth pyramids of Melnik, no archaeologically usable traces have been preserved from the earlier period of the fortress (9th century).

Roschen Monastery

The Rozhen Monastery was built in the 13th century and is relatively well preserved. The current building is from the 19th century. It is located seven kilometers from Melnik. From there you have a view of the Pirin Mountains, the Belasiza Mountains and the pyramids of Melnik - pyramid-shaped hills that were created by erosion of the clay soil.

Literary history

Karl May dedicated the chapter Im Taubenschlag ( Orient cycle , volume In the gorges of the Balkans ) to the city.



  • Hans-Joachim Härtel, Roland Schönfeld: Bulgaria. From the Middle Ages to the present. Friedrich Pustet Verlag, Regensburg 1998, ISBN 3-7917-1540-2 , pp. 128-138.
  • Иван Божилов, Васил Гюзелев: История на средновековна България VII – XIV век. (Bulgarian: Iwan Bozhilov, Vasil Gjuzelev: Iztorija na srednowekowna Balgaria / History of Medieval Bulgaria 7th to 14th Century ) Volume 1, Verlag Anubis, Sofia 2006, ISBN 954-426-204-0 .
  • Цветана Георгиева, Николай Генчевв: История на България XV – XIX век. (Bulgarian: Zwetana Georgiewa, Nikolaj Gentschev: Iztorija na Balgaria / History of Bulgaria 15th to 19th centuries ) Volume 2, Verlag Anubis, Sofia 2006, ISBN 954-426-205-9 .
  • Гeoрги Гeрoв: Икoни oт Meлник и Meлнишкo. (Bulgarian: Georgi Gergow: Ikoni ot Melnik i Melnischko / Icons from Melnik and the surrounding area. ), Publisher: Пенсофт; Арс Миленуим МММ, 2007, ISBN 954-642-284-3 .

Web links

Commons : Melnik  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Иван Дуйчев: "Очерк върху средновековната история на Мелник". In: Мелник. Градът в подножието на Славова крепост (in German: Iwan Dujtschew: Outline of the medieval history of Melniks ). In: Melnik. City at the foot of the Slavova fortress, Sofia, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Publishing House, Volume 1, 1989, page 18.
  2. Григорович, Виктор: Очерк путешествия по европейской Турции , 1877, (Wiktor Grigorowitsch: Journey through European Turkey )
  3. ^ Ethnography of the Vilayets d'Adrianople, de Monastir et de Salonique ( Ethnography of the Vilayets Adrianopol , Monastir and Saloniki ), 1878, Istanbul; New edition in Bulgarian: Македония и Одринско. Статистика на населението от 1873 г. ( Macedonia and the Odrin area . Population statistics from 1873 ), Sofia, 1995
  4. Васил Кънчов: Македония. Етнография и статистика. (Wasil Kantschew: Macedonia. Ethnographic Statistics ), Sofia, 1900
  5. DM Brancoff. La Macédoine et sa Population Chrétienne . Paris, 1905, 192-193.
  6. ^ A b Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Division of Intercourse and Communication (1914), REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION To Inquire into the causes and Conduct OF THE BALKAN WARS, Publication No. 4, WASHINGTON, DC: PUBLISHED BY THE ENDOWMENT, ISBN 0-87003-032-9 , pp. 202-204